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Why Donors Want Refunds from “Wall Street Pete” Buttigieg

Pete Buttigieg bites his lips, presumably to keep from laughing at how bad Jacob Wohl is at crime.

Pete Buttigieg is finding out that it’s hard to be a frontrunner right now. The candidate, who raised massive money from grassroots support at the beginning of his campaign, is not having a good week, and it’s culminated in supporters abandoning him and asking for refunds of their donations. The man they thought was a progressive who needed small donations turns out to be a moderate who’s getting all the money he needs from Wall Street and billionaires.

After seeing a recent surge in support in the democratic primary, Buttigieg is under renewed scrutiny on many sides for his poor record with black voters, his work for the McKinsey Consulting firm, and for his cozying up to Wall Street and big-money donors. All of that converged yesterday as Buttigieg was caught (by Black activists) fundraising privately with big money donors after he said he wouldn’t – and after his deep ties to big business and corporate interested have come under scrutiny.

First, this week finally saw the release of Buttigieg’s client list from his time working at the McKinsey consulting firm. Progressives have pounced on Buttigieg’s work for the consulting firm – some of which was for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan in 2007 in which McKinsey’s consultations contributed to massive layoffs in the state. His work for the firm on top of his opposition to policies like free college and Medicare For All as proposed by candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren has seriously hurt his credibility with members of the party who are hoping for a candidate that wants to truly change the system.

And then there was his willingness to court billionaires. Warren and Sanders have placed themselves firmly in the camp against billionaires and big money in politics, while Buttigieg very much on the opposite side of that divide. Buttigieg has accepted money from big donors amid much criticism, and dismissed it out of hand, as with his response to the young man in this video:

Following that tweet going viral and more criticism from other candidates, Buttigieg’s campaign promised he would stop having closed-door fundraisers with billionaires and big business and announced that it would open events to the press and provide names of donors.

This apparently was a lie, as Buttigieg was caught by activists exiting another closed-door fundraiser, where he refused to answer for himself.

Buttigieg was caught in the act by activists, some who were with New York Communities for Change, an activist group committed to grassroots community organizing and fighting against corporate influence. The protestors we see in these videos are primarily people of color demanding answers from Buttigieg and so of course someone called the cops on them.

So, here we have Buttigieg caught in a lie so he could court more billionaires and suppress black community activists to do it? That’s a bad look, and on top of everything that’s what got #WallStreetPete and #RefundPete trending on Twitter on Thursday morning.

Progressives who donated to Buttigieg when he first came on the scene and wrongly assumed that he had real progressive plans for America are taking their money back and looking to send it elsewhere now.

It’s clear that Buttigieg has a lot of work to do to impressive progressive and black voters that aren’t having it with his record or with his campaign. There’s still a long way to go before the votes really start coming in, and Buttigieg will need to get support from more actual people rather than anonymous white billionaires to have a chance.

(via: Newsweek, image: Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.